Where do you start if you want to learn to draw? It depends…everyone has their own path and wants to learn to draw for different reasons.
When I decided to take my first drawing class, I went all in and took a figure drawing class, and for me, that turned out to be the absolute best path for various reasons. I thought I’d share those insights in case it helps others in making their own choice about how to get started.
I had always been a creative child – asking for art supplies at every birthday and at Christmas. Playing with creativity was my favorite activity, but I mainly just played with different materials and colors.
Most of my artistic projects were simply abstract projects or rudimentary attempts at drawing or painting or making simple collages – all the way through high school. As much as I loved art and creating, I couldn’t draw at all.
My love of art never subsided, but I always felt stuck.
I had ideas I didn’t have the skill to bring to life – at least not in the way I wanted.
In my early twenties, I decided to take a drawing class so that I could bring some of my ideas to life in more than an abstract or limited way.
CRITIC: I really can’t draw anything much more than a stick figure. Why bother?
MUSE: Drawing is a skill that can be learned…once I learn the basic skills, I can unleash my creativity in new and exciting ways, regardless of whether or not I become “good” at drawing.
My “muse” mindset allowed me to move forward with an open mind and creative spirit.
In considering my options, I really wasn’t moved by the idea of still life – drawing objects that didn’t seem to speak to me.
Though I realize a still life drawing class would have helped build my skills in a way I could apply to other things, I ultimately decided to take a figure drawing class, which honestly scared me to death.
My rationale was that if I could learn to draw something as difficult and intricate as the human figure, I could draw anything.
Thoughts going in…
My first thought was that I would be entirely uncomfortable drawing a nude figure. I got over that pretty quickly once I was in my first class.
My second thought was that I was in waaaaay over my head. I had NO IDEA how to draw anything, much less a human figure.
I got over that pretty quickly in my first class, as well.
I was taking a beginner class and many students were as new to the idea and process as I was (though some students were taking the beginner class for a second or third time, so they were further along in their learning).
My third thought had to do with the actual nude model in the first class.
She was very heavy set, her face was not what I would deem as attractive, she was, frankly, very hairy (she didn’t shave her legs, under her arms, etc.), and overall not the sort of person I would choose as a subject.
These thoughts produced the most surprising revelation to me.
Once I started drawing, I started “seeing” differently.
My first instructor actually didn’t teach us to draw at all – she taught us to see as an artist and the drawing skills came naturally as a result of seeing lines and forms in a different way.
Over the course or that first class, I noticed that the model’s form was quite conducive to creating a beautiful drawing (and painting based on the sketches).
Her form gave me more to work with in terms of curves based on her pose.
I realized that beauty is so very subjective, and I noticed that a human subject has so much more potential for creating art than I initially thought.
Throughout taking several classes, I found that older individuals or those with more weight or those who I hadn’t considered “pretty” in a typical sense offered so much more value as a subject – with the various lines and shapes and shadows and curves.
I was amazed and inspired at the same time.
Just as some of the other students had done, I took the same beginner figure drawing class more than once…there was too much to learn to get it all in one 6-week session.
Then, I took a figure painting class. When I had those under my belt, I tried drawing other things…still life, landscapes, and animals.
It was just as I had hoped. I had mastered a level of drawing the human figure to a point where I really could feel confident drawing anything.
The main reason was because I hadn’t learned to draw differently at all, really – I had learned to SEE differently.
And that experience was priceless for me.
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